Last Days ’til Summer

So, that whole thing about being less of a stranger, huh?

This year has been interminable. While I’m still immensely relieved that I was able to return to work, I am still reeling at trying to readjust — one day before the end of the year. Part of the problem is that I am already burnt out from everything that came before this transition — the months of chaos, of worry, of literally trying to do two (or more) things at once every moment of the work day, the unpredictable workloads, the constant need for vigilance even when it looked like I might have a ‘free’ moment — and part of the problem is, since being back, I haven’t really been able to settle into a routine. I’ve been shuttled back and forth all over the building, filling in for one teacher after another, subbing because the school can’t hold on to subs right now. I’ve not adjusted to my routine because there has barely been a routine to adjust to.

But it’s almost over. And I’m trying to look ahead at summer goals.

Summer goals are… complex. I, of course, want to maximize my time and use the opportunity to catch up on, shit, everything. Reading, and cleaning, and renovating, and writing, and art, and my son — Jesus Christ, my son. This year has been crap on a cracker for him, with his social outlets snatched away and both his moms haggard and exhausted by absolutely everything. I can’t promise him an exciting summer, since the world is in such a state of (cautiously optimistic) uncertainty, but I should be trying to provide a structured one. A patient one. A kind one.

But that balancing act — my needs vs. my wants, vs his needs, vs his wants — has never been my forte. I get too wrapped up in one or two things, I let too many things fall by the wayside, I promise myself I’ll ‘do better,’ and instead drown in self-loathing and make the situation that more prolonged and painful. I have to navigate a whole minefield of deeply ingrained bad habits and neurodivergences.

And then there is a mess of personal drama. I can’t get into it right now for various reasons, but trust me when I say the mire of that is bubbling away in the back of my mind, the resultant fog clouding my mind whenever I drop my guard.

So there are obstacles, but I am trying to make something of this. Trying to establish some sense of routine and normalcy, and scaffolding for success.

To that end, I’ve been trying to concretize some of my goals – which, as I said, is complex, since “my goals” really encompass things I want for myself, my son, and our family as a collective. They also span from creative goals to schedule goals, to concrete events to attend/activities to do. Given the vastness of all of this, I’ll give my best approximation of my goals as of this moment:

Goals for Bear:

Return to the library. Even if it’s just for curbside pick-up (I don’t feel like trying to wrestle him away from other kids, and if he weren’t hyper-tactile and sensory-seeking, maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but his standard of interaction is immensely rooted in close physical contact and we still aren’t doing that). But still — I don’t know how deeply I got into this, but his testing came back, and his reading and comprehension is at the 4th grade level. So I want to encourage him to do some reading this summer to continue to develop a love of reading to match his ability level.

Find easy-entry crafts and activities for everyday. I’ve started a Pinterest board, because I’m a Basic White Female(-presenting-ish Person), with Summer ‘Bucket Lists’ and activity and craft ideas that don’t require special supplies or planning, so that I’m never scrambling for something to do with Bear.

Get him into a routine. To that end, I added easy to make summer breakfasts to my Pinterest board, so that we can have a cornerstone for a summer morning routine, and bought him academic workbooks that we can work in for an hour or two a day. We also got a Responsibility Chart with customizable chore options, and he and I are making a printable Daily Routine Chart on Canva, in the hopes that, if he is involved, it will make him more likely to do things.

Goals for Me:

Devote at least an hour or two a day to something creative. I’ve been putting off doing basically anything creative for the last couple of weeks because I’ve been so burnt out, but with the whole summer available, I hope to make this a greater priority.

Resume language learning. For me, this means Finnish and Amerian Sign Language. I’m not aiming for fluency in either — honestly, I just think Finnish is fun to speak, and ASL is something I’ve been wanting to learn since I was a kid — but I was making real progress in ASL before the pandemic hit (I was having fun with Finnish, but retaining none of it; to that end, I bought flashcards, so hopefully writing things down will help me this time around).

Read at least one book every two weeks. I’m not a speed reader, but I read roughly a page a minute; an average novel of, say 350 pages should take me under seven hours, which is about a half hour a night over two weeks. That’s so, so doable, right? I really have no excuse.

Clean the house and pick one “focus” chore a day that’s outside the realm of household maintenance. Meaning, I get the house clean, right? And then every day I do my maintenance chores and then pick one thing that doesn’t fall under “maintenance” to tackle. For example, my goal for this Saturday is the downstairs closet. My goal for Sunday is spackling the holes in the walls. My goal for one day next week (going to depend on when I can get to Home Depot) is to paint the wall in the bathroom. A little at a time, no stress, no pressure. A summer full of small tasks will add up to big changes come fall.

Do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise everyday. That can be using my stepper, playing RingFit, or going for a brisk walk.

Make progress on my Bucket List. Hi, I have a Bucket List over at DayZeroProject. Have you heard of it? Cause I’ve been ignoring it for a long time. I want to take a good long look at it and make time over the summer to work at some of the projects (luckily there is some natural overlap between my summer goals and my Bucket List goals).

It’s a work in progress, but I also don’t want to overburden myself, so I might leave it as is, see how the summer plays out.

I’m just glad to be done. Just glad to be able to rest, even if only a bit. Even if only for a while.

Stay safe and sane.

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